I Have A Hel-sinking Feeling About This

, , , , , | Working | October 4, 2017

I’m going to Finland to spend a year, and am a bit nervous about travelling by plane as I have had bad experiences with airports in the last few years. My flights are supposed to be Montreal to Frankfurt to Helsinki, booked with [Carrier #1]. Upon arriving at the airport, I am informed that the second flight is cancelled, as [Carrier #2] operating that leg is on strike.

I queue for customer service with [Carrier #1] with everyone else to get rerouted. For some reason, the man who redirects me chooses a flight from Montreal to Toronto, then to London, then to Helsinki, while he just told his colleague that there are still seats available on a more direct flight through London. As I’m already tired, I don’t argue. The last flight is operated by [Carrier #3]. I make sure that the $50 fee for the second suitcase I’m checking in is paid for.

It’s the middle of February, in Canada, so the plane leaves two hours late to have the wings de-iced, making me miss the connection in Toronto towards London. Customer service there, still [Carrier #1], puts me on a flight the next day, past 6:00 pm, rearranges the flight after, and gives me vouchers for a hotel room and meals. I go to the baggage claim, where the man tells me not to worry about my luggage, which they will keep, and gives me a free bag of toiletries to use at the hotel.

The next day, I return to the baggage claim, where I’m given a paper and assured that it’ll allow my luggage to be forwarded along my new flights. The check-in clerk is dubious, but ends up confirming it. The plane is again late to de-ice the wings, and there is a minor medical emergency a few seats ahead of mine, which has all the lights on for the whole overnight flight.

I end up missing the flight leaving from London, but there is another a bit later in the day with [Carrier #3], so there is no worry. I go through security, then go to [Carrier #3] customer service to arrange the next flight.

The man there is a bit confused, and tells me after a few verifications that [Carrier #3] does not have an agreement with [Carrier #1] to emit tickets for their flights, which somehow neither the customer service in Montreal nor in Toronto caught. Having not slept much, I’m appalled, and am redirected to [Carrier #1].

They arrange for me to get on a flight with [Carrier #4] with whom they do have an agreement, and I go to check in. The gruff man there processes things without a word, until he asks me for a 50£ fee for my second suitcase. I argue that I already paid for that back in Montreal, but he says that they don’t have the money. Angry and exhausted, I pay.

While waiting for my flight, I locate an Internet terminal and go on to check my emails. There, time-stamped approximately at the moment I was midway over the Atlantic, sits an email from my dad, informing me that he just got a call from the Toronto airport, asking what they should be doing with my luggage. In his hesitant, second-language English, he managed to make them understand that they should be forwarding it to Helsinki, and not return them to Montreal.

I am lucky to only arrive a day late at my destination. The £50 charge never appears on my credit card statement, and the luggage makes it all the way to my destination, intact, two days later. And all the other flights since have been smooth, thankfully!

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